Cooking With Honey – Strawberries With Honey Rebecca Sauce

strawberries with rebecca sauce

This is a traditional Kentucky Derby favorite. Enjoy the seasonal abundance of fresh strawberries with this heavenly sauce.

Yield:  6 servings


2 quarts fresh strawberries

· 1 pint sour cream

· ½ cup honey

· 1 tablespoon vanilla

· 1 tablespoon dark rum, brandy or bourbon (bourbon makes a more Kentucky-tasting sauce)


Wash berries. Drain on paper towels. Divide among 6 pretty bowls or plates.

Combine sour cream, honey, vanilla and rum or bourbon. Stir to mix well. Spoon over strawberries and serve.

Holidays With Honey – Kentucky Bourbon Balls With Honey

bourbon balls

In 1936, Ruth Hanly Booe, a candy entrepreneur in Frankfort, Kentucky, invented the Bourbon Ball.  Simply and deliciously, it is a whiskey-spiked cream center covered with dark chocolate and topped with a pecan. Over time, it became a regional favorite,  especially popular during the holidays. My version contains honey as well as the finest Kentucky Bourbon.


1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature

3 1/2 cups powdered sugar

5 Tablespoons top quality Kentucky Bourbon

1 Tablespoon honey


Combine softened butter and powdered sugar until smooth.

Add bourbon and honey.  Mix until incorporated.

Refrigerate the mixture for 1 hour.

Form the buttercream into 1 inch balls and place on waxed paper. Refrigerate until firm.

Transfer buttercream centers to a Ziploc freezer bag and freeze for several hours or overnight.

Dip in chocolate coating. (See Below)

Chocolate Coating

4 to 6 ounces semisweet chocolate

30 -50 whole pecan halves, for garnish

Place a toothpick in each bourbon ball, sticking the toothpick into the center.

Melt chocolate in a small bowl in the microwave or a double boiler. Mix and heat until smooth.

Working quickly, dip the bourbon ball centers into the chocolate one at a time. Tap the toothpick against the side of the bowl to shake off excess chocolate. Set the coated bourbon ball on waxed paper covering a baking sheet or pizza pan. With another toothpick push the bourbon ball gently from the toothpick and cover the spot where it was with a pecan half.

When all bourbon balls have been dipped allow them to rest until set. (To speed the process the pan of bourbon balls can be placed in the refrigerator.) When set, transfer the candies to a holiday tin or other storage container.

Furnace Mountain Revisited

I just returned from spending four perfect days at Furnace Mountain Zen Retreat Center in Clay City, Kentucky.  It was marvelously restorative and much needed.

The Dog Days of August had taken their toll on me.  My garden is brown and dry in spots, and the hot weather didn’t break until this weekend. It was hard for me to remember the energy and enthusiasm that carried me through most of the Spring and Summer.

It only took four days for it all to come back to me!  It was easy to drop into deep meditation and forget the petty annoyances of everyday life.  It is my little miracle.

I hope you enjoy this virtual visit to Furnace Mountain, and that some of its magic reaches you!

The Mountain

Zen Stone Arch

The Tea House


Sam’s House

On The Path To The Temple

The Temple

The Lotus Pond

View From The Temple

Bane Weeding

Furnace Mountain

Furnace Mountain

No, I’m not referring to the heat wave that’s affecting much of the US. Although, come to think of it, I am.

I must explain. I spent this weekend at one of my favorite places on earth, Furnace Mountain Zen Retreat Center in Clay City, Kentucky.

I’ve been practicing Zen meditation for more than twelve years now. During all that time, I’ve been making periodic visits to Furnace Mountain.

I say “periodic” rather than “regular” because I go when I really need to go. Sometimes that’s every month. But there’ve been years between my visits.

Two things are always the same, no matter how long I stay away.

They always make room for me,

And it’s always exactly what I need to reconnect with what really matters.

The Center is located on Furnace Mountain in the Red River Gorge region of eastern Kentucky. It is rugged and stunning.

The Temple

It is headed up by the patient and long-suffering Zen Master Dae Gak who has practiced Zen for over forty years.

Zen Master Dae Gak

He is sensitive and wise and he likes my jokes.

This weekend was especially challenging because of the staggering heat. Within the Temple, the temperature at its highest was 102° F. Outside, the thermometer broke.

The Temple

Zen Master Dae Gak told us of the Buddhist monks who traditionally sat in meditation during periods of extreme heat and extreme cold. During the spring and fall, they would travel the countryside and engage in scholarly pursuits.

He encouraged us all to use the conditions to our benefit. Most significantly for me, he reminded us that enlightenment is always possible, just a second away.

It was a hard and sweaty weekend. I perspired in places I didn’t know humans perspired. I explored some painful places and came out the better for it.

I’m going to help them set up an apiary there!

Tonight I am at peace about my life and my bees and my future. It has cooled down, and there is a storm brewing.

I’ll be going back to Furnace Mountain in September.

Run For The Roses

The Kentucky Derby is a stakes race for three-year-old thoroughbred horses, staged annually at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky on the first Saturday in May.

Organized horse racing in the State of Kentucky dates as far back as the late 1700s when several different race courses were built in and around the city of Louisville.

In 1872, Col. M. Lewis Clark, traveled to England, visiting the Epsom Derby, a famous race that had been running annually since 1780. From there, Clark went on to Paris, France, where in 1863 a group of racing enthusiasts had formed the French Jockey Club and had organized the Grand Prix de Paris, which eventually became the famous Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe.

Returning home to Kentucky, Clark organized the Louisville Jockey Club for the purpose of raising money to build quality racing facilities just outside of the city. The track would soon become known as Churchill Downs, named for Lewis Clark’s relatives, John and Henry Churchill, who had provided the land for the racetrack.

Besides the consumption of the Mint Julep drink, other traditions have played a large role in the Derby atmosphere, with elegant women appearing in long dresses, big hats, and carrying fancy umbrellas.

The Derby is frequently referred to as “The run for the roses,” because a garland of red roses is awarded to the Kentucky Derby winner each year.

Derby Week Recipes – The Hot Brown

The Hot Brown was created at the Brown Hotel in Louisville in the early 1900’s by Chef Fred Schmidt.

It is especially popular during Derby week, although it is served year-round in restaurants throughout Kentucky.  This is the genuine recipe from the Brown Hotel.


4 oz. Butter
Flour to make a Roux (about 6 tablespoons)
3 – 3 ½ cups Milk
1 Beaten Egg
6 tablespoons Grated Parmesan Cheese
1 oz. Whipped Cream
Salt and Pepper to Taste
Slices of Roast Turkey
8-12 Slices of Toast (may be trimmed)
Extra Parmesan for Topping
8-12 Strips of Fried Bacon

Tomatoes for garnish


Melt butter and add enough flour to make a reasonably thick roux (enough to absorb all of the butter).

Add milk and Parmesan cheese.

Add egg to thicken sauce, but do not allow sauce to boil. Remove from heat.

Fold in whipped cream. Add salt and pepper to taste.

For each Hot Brown, place two slices of toast on a metal (or flameproof) dish. Cover the toast with a liberal amount of turkey. Pour a generous amount of sauce over the turkey and toast.

Sprinkle with additional Parmesan cheese. Place entire dish under a broiler until the sauce is speckled brown and bubbly. Remove from broiler, cross two pieces of bacon on top, add tomato slices and serve immediately.

Derby Week Recipes – Honey Whiskey Dogs

The perfect Derby appetizer!!


1/3 cup Kentucky bourbon
2/3 cup chili sauce
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup honey
1/4 cup minced sweet onion
14-16 ounces cocktail franks, drained


Stir bourbon, chili sauce, sugar,honey and onion together in a 2-quart saucepan. Heat over medium heat until well-combined. Stir in cocktail franks.

Reduce heat to low and gently simmer in an uncovered pan for 1 to 1-1/2 hours, stirring every 15 to 20 minutes. Cook until sauce thickens.

Transfer to a chafing dish and maintain a low heat while serving.

Derby Week Recipes – Honey Mint Julep

It’s Derby week!  I’ll be featuring Kentucky recipes that are traditionally served during Derby time.

Even though it’s Monday, I’m starting out with the most traditional recipe of all – The Mint Julep – with a Honey twist!


  • 1/4 cup fresh mint leaves
  • 2 cups water, heated
  • 1 cup honey
  • cracked ice
  • bourbon


First, make syrup:
Heat water. Whisk in honey and heat until blended. Remove from heat. Add mint and let the mixture steep for 20 to 30 minutes.

For each Mint Julep:
Add cracked or crushed ice to Julep tumbler or glass. Add 1 1/2 ounces of Kentucky Bourbon. Add 2 1/2 teaspoons syrup, or to taste. Stir lightly. Garnish with fresh mint leaf and serve with a straw.

Kentucky Honey Jam Cake With Caramel Icing

Kentucky jam cake is a spice cake with blackberry jam, frosted with caramel frosting. My mother used to make it for my dad. It was his favorite dessert!


  • 8 ounces (1 cup) butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 5 eggs
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 cup seedless blackberry jam
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • 1 cup chopped raisins or dates


Cream butter and sugar until light. Blend in honey.Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.Combine flour, soda, salt, and spices in a separate bowl; add to the first mixture alternately with buttermilk; beating well after each addition.Blend in the jam, chopped pecans, and raisins or dates. Pour into 3 round greased and floured 8 to 9-inch cake pans. Bake at 325 degrees for 35 to 40 minutes, or until a cake tester or wooden pick comes out clean when inserted in center. Cool in pans on racks for 15 minutes. Carefully invert onto racks to cool completely.
Caramel Frosting


  • 3 cups packed light brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • dash of salt
  • 3/4 cup cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla


In large saucepan,combine ingredients and mix well to blend. Bring to a boil; cover and cook 3 minutes. Uncover and cook to 238° on candy thermometer or until soft ball forms when dropped in cold water. Cool for 3 minutes. Beat until thick and spreadable. It should begin to lose its glossiness.Spread on layers and over sides of cake.
As you frost the cake, the frosting might become too stiff. Add a little hot water whenever necessary to make it spreadable. Dip the spatula in hot water to smooth frosting out if needed.
Makes enough to frost 2 to 3 layers.